From clearing the campsite to preparing firewood, a reliable axe is an essential tool to have. Depending on the task, an axe needs to have the right size, power, and construction quality. With some research and the right information, you’ll easily find the best axe for making the job both easier and quicker.
To help you narrow down your options, this article will present the best hatchets and axes to use around the campsite. Our hatchet reviews focus on offering a variety of sizes and designs, so you can get the right tool whether you wish to cut large trees or simply chop kindling wood.
How To Choose The Best Camping Hatchet Or Axe – Buying Guide
Use Around The Campsite
Before deciding on an axe or hatchet, you should consider how and where you’re going to use it. Even though the best models are highly versatile, it’s worth noting that a smaller product gives you more control while a larger one provides more power.
The most common reason for bringing an axe or hatchet is to make firewood, which is usually done by cutting off branches or splitting logs. Another good use for your sharp blade is clearing an area for a camp before you can lay down the gear.
Length Of The Handle
Length is the most important factor when it comes to the power that your blade can generate. It’s also the main thing that separates an axe from a hatchet — an axe is longer (20+ inches) and therefore generates more force.
If you need to chop small branches and want higher portability, go with a shorter handle. On the other hand, if you plan on cutting down trees, you should get a longer one.
Depending on the type of steel it’s made from, the weight of the head varies significantly. Of course, the material used to make the handle plays a large role too.
When talking about numbers, lighter hatchets can weigh less than 1 pound, while heavier axes often go over 4 pounds. We feel that it’s optimal to get a model with a balanced weight, so it has decent power while still allowing you to swing it easily.
Besides the head, the handle is an equally important part of a high-quality axe. Various materials are used for making the handle, each with its pros and cons.
Wood: This is a traditional type of handle, often seen on classic hatchet models. The wood of choice is usually hickory, known for its high level of durability. The handle is comfy to hold but can be very slippery when wet.
Plastic: Even though it doesn’t provide the same comfort as natural materials, plastic is a good choice because its textured surface prevents slipping out of your hand even when wet.
Leather: Leather handles rank highly in both comfort and grip firmness. They feel nice on the hand, but long-term durability is questionable as they can get worn down over time.
Fiberglass: Similar to plastic, a fiberglass handle is lightweight and textured to provide a better grip. It may not rank the highest in comfort, but it will still feel good when holding it.
Rubber: Rubber has many similar qualities to leather in terms of both grip and comfort. However, lower-quality rubber might start to chip away over time.
Almost all hatchet and axe heads are made from hardened forged steel, which is the best material when it comes to balancing between low weight and a high degree of strength.
High-quality carbon steel is incredibly sharp, effectively reducing the number of swings you need. On the other hand, they might also become dull faster, so keep this in mind.
There are three different options when it comes to head type — single, double, and spiked. The single head is by far the most common type used for camping and consists of one blade on the front and a blunt surface on the back. A double head comes with a sharp blade on both sides, while a spiked head has a blade on one side and a spike on the other (resembles a pickaxe).
Sharpness Of The Blade
The sharpness of the blade plays a key role in the overall effectiveness of your axe. A dull blade not only requires more effort but also increases the risk of injury.
Besides getting a blade made of high-quality steel, it’s also important to check the blade’s edge before each trip and sharpen it regularly. This will improve performance and protect it from uneven wear or damage.
When carrying an axe or a hatchet, covering the blade is important for safety reasons. Sheaths can be made of a few different materials, but they all do a very good job of protecting the blade.
Traditional hatchets often come with a leather cover that does a great job and looks stylish but tends to be pricey. When talking about the alternatives, nylon is thick and completely cushions the blade, while a plastic cover protects from injuries and reduces overall weight.
Q: What Is A Hatchet?
A hatchet is a small axe that is shorter in length for easier handling. However, the terms axe and hatchet are often used interchangeably, as there is no specific length that separates the two.
Broadly speaking, a hatchet can be used efficiently with one hand and works best for smaller jobs like cutting off branches or preparing firewood.
Q: What Is An Axe?
An axe is a blade that is attached to a long handle, used for heavy chopping tasks such as cutting down trees. Due to their size and weight, you usually need to use them with both hands. Additionally, their greater size gives them more cutting power so you’ll need fewer swings to chop wood.
Q: What Is A Tomahawk?
While it resembles a hatchet, a tomahawk was invented primarily as a weapon used in hand-to-hand combat or thrown. The design differences include a different head shape, as well as holes in the head and handle created to reduce weight. However, nowadays they are used in pretty much the same way as hatchets.
Q: What Is The Difference Between An Axe, A Hatchet, And A Tomahawk?
Even though the three of them look very similar, there are a few key differences. An axe is mainly used as a means to chop down large pieces of wood, while hatchets and tomahawks are better at handling smaller jobs. And, as we’ve mentioned, tomahawks were originally used as weapons and have a bit more of an aggressive-looking style.
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Bringing a hatchet (or an axe) on a camping trip is bound to make your time outdoors more enjoyable. Whether you’re clearing some bushes or preparing a fire, this sharp tool helps you do your job. Hopefully, this guide has given you the answers you were looking for so that you can find a hatchet you’ll enjoy bringing on every adventure.